Last Sunday was the parade that locals see as the true start of Mardi Gras, Krewe Du Vieux. Less of a traditional parade and more of a quarter mile of moving chaos, Krewe Du Vieux is a raucous, bawdy affair that combines sexual innuendo with political satire. It is the only parade that still walks the French Quarter. In fact its name, Krewe Du Vieux, comes from the Vieux Carre, or old square, the parts of the French Quarter that were not torn down and rebuilt in the early twentieth century. It is also the only parade that still uses mule-drawn floats, rather than tractor-pulled floats.
KdV, which began in 1978 as Krewe of Clones, was the first parade to march after hurricane Katrina, and "garnered national attention for its tenacity and lightheartedness in the face of tragedy. That year's theme was "C'est Levee." (from the Mardi Gras site).
This year we are having an early Mardi Gras (February 12). We also have the Superbowl happening right in the middle of Mardi Gras (February 3). Many of the parades were set to dates earlier than they would normally parade most years. So the theme of KdV this year was "Krewe du Vieux Comes Early," and all of the sub-krewes and floats played on the sexual innuendo of "coming early."
Above, Lauren waits for the parade. Below, the KdV banner float.
The Queen of KdV, Bethany Bultman, director of the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. We love her!
A few faces in the crowd waiting for the parade... things get weird down here in New Orleans...
The parade starts in earnest, with a molested Big Bird, a commentary on the political suggestion that public television be stripped of its funding.
Imprisoned Big Birds...
The next sub-krewe, the Krewe Of Lewd, were penis-bunnies. Of course.
Above, a bunny with a hydrolic, um, marital aid strapped to her back.
Above, the banner announcing "drips and discharges." Below, our local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, sold out after 175 years of publishing, and is now available only online. This was satired by several floats, a "day-of-the-dead" theme, and costumes made of the newspaper.
The sign above mimics a well known 3rd grade joke about a newspaper.
Newspaper costumes, and the slogan "I want it every day," (meaning the Times-Picayune).
Below, a play on the Superbowl. Locals have a good deal of resentment about the Superbowl, as our team, the Saints, were handicapped by ridiculous penalties over unproven allegations of locker room discussions: essentially, the NFL made certain our team would not be contenders for our home Superbowl. You'll see this theme several more times in the parade.
A sexual spoof on Chick-Fil-A.
Sexual innuendos, and referees from the Superbowl, come together in the KdV swirl of chaos.
Above: Penny Tration. Below, one of the many musicians that march in KdV.
Above, More NFL satire. Below, the next subkrewe, Krewe du Jeux.
The Krewe du Jeux theme combined penises (circumcised, of course), dreidals and space invaders...
At this point in the parade, these two scantily clad young ladies edged their way beside us. They managed to stop a lot of parade traffic, and get a good deal of the throws.
A yearly sub-krewe of KdV is Krewe of Spermes (a play on the Greek God Hermes), who pose the question, which came first...? If you watch the show Treme, you'll recognize the costume of the Krewe of Spermes.
Above, Lauren watching the parade...
Skinz-N-Bonez, part of Krewdelusion, is New Orleans' only female drum krewe. They focus on tribal style drumming. Above is member Pamela Paige,whose photo of me is the cover of my Ghosts Of The Delta CD.
More KdV sub-krewes. Above, Krewe du Jeux; Below, Krewe of Goddesses.
...and Krewe de Seuss
As always, pretty much all of NOLA turned lined the streets of the Quarter for Krewe Du Vieux. It was pretty awesome... then I rushed to Buffa's, which was packed, to learn I'd missed playing the first set (the original plan was that we'd wait until the parade was done...oops), and played till past midnight.
From Krewe du Vieux Parade in the French Quarter, this is Kenny Klein explaining it all.